Joseph H. Pilates, the founder of the pilates exercise method, was born in Germany. As a child, he was weak and living with asthma in addition to other childhood conditions. To build his body and grow stronger, he took up several different sports, eventually becoming an accomplished athlete. As a nurse in Great Britain during World War I, Pilates designed exercise methods and equipment for immobilized patients and soldiers using bed springs to strengthen the bed ridden. In addition to his equipment, he developed a series of mat exercises that focus on the torso. He based these on various exercise methods from the mind-body formats of yoga and Chinese martial arts.
Joseph Pilates: 1880 – 1967
Born near Dusseldorf, Germany
He suffered as a child from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever and dedicated his whole life to becoming physically stronger
1894: By age 14 Pilates was fit enough to pose for anatomical charts
1912: Pilates moved from Germany to England
WWI (1915-1918): Pilates was interned with other Germans at a camp in Lancaster & later on the Isle of Man
Orderly at the camp
He worked with non-ambulatory patients by attaching springs to the bed. Recovery was quickened with this method
Trained other German internees in his physical fitness exercises
Fitness exercises or Method called “Contrology” (muscle control) highlights unique approach of using the mind to master the muscles
1918: Pilates was credited when no internee became ill during the influenza epidemic in England
After WWI: Continued fitness training program in Hamburg..
1926: Emigrated to the United States
On ship to the US, Joseph meets future wife Clara
The official Pilates Studio is established in New York City teaching Contrology to many
Post 1926: “Contrology” method establishes a following in the dance community including Martha Graham and George Balanchine
1934: Authored Your Health – an essay on Pilates’ beliefs and philosophy on “good” health
1945: Authored Return to Life Through Contrology – The power of our minds provides the fine-tuning of his method and includes 34 of his original low impact mat exercises to help the reader achieve strength, flexibility, and balance.
1960: Rebecca Silvey begins “floor bar” instruction in ballet class and initiates a lifelong interest in “mind-body conditioning”.
1967: Joseph H. Pilates passes away at the age of 87
Romana Kryzanowska is designated as pilates successor
The exercise method continues to be taught to dancers, actors, and business people in Manhattan
1977: Rebecca Silvey is granted a BFA in Education and Music from the University of South Dakota
Early 1990s’s to Present: A worldwide movement of the Pilates exercise method…Pilates’ goal of reaching “masses” is coming to fruition.
2003: AlphaPilates established in Alpharetta, GA offering mat Pilates classes, later adding Spinning, Yoga, Kick-boxing and Dance and full Pilates Apparatus.
2008: Rebecca Silvey receives Polestar Certification
Pilates designed his exercise program to support his philosophies, including concentration, precision, control, breathing and flowing movements. He called this system: “Contrology”.
The pilates exercise system is a body conditioning routine that will build flexibility, strength, endurance and coordination without adding muscle bulk. In addition, pilates improves the circulatory system. People who do pilates regularly feel they have better posture and they are less prone to injury.
Pilates works on strengthening the stabilizing muscles, which lie close to and support the spine. The pilates exercises alter the way in which your body recruits muscles to produce movements. It changes the way you use your body and the way you move by restoring natural and normal movement.
The eight original pilates exercise principles can be summed up by learning your Pilates A B C’s